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In Wilde's preface, he states that: "there is no such thing as a moral or immoral book." Art has no effect—aside from aesthetic—on those who interact with it. Do you agree or disagree?
To my mind, Wilde is being disingenuous when he suggests that all books are amoral. A book might incite hatred or advocate altruism. The waters are muddied when the book is a work of fiction but even here many books have a clear message about specific morals.
In response to the question, I see Wilde's point. An artist should not be held responsible for the reaction that artistic consumers have to his or her art. The artist can only create from that which is in the artist's soul. It is up to the artistic connoisseur to determine their reaction to it, and the artist cannot predict how all who interact with the art will react to it.
Indeed, all art seeks to "have an effect" on others, so this is implicitly understood. Now as to whether one should "warn our audience if such expressions might reasonably be expected to cause distress" I'm less certain. There are things a good society seeks to make its citizens safe from-- hunger, disease, violence. But I do not think it should seek to make people safe from ideas.
Wilde is being disingenuous when he suggests that all books are amoral.
The classic test case here is The Anarchist's Cookbook. Is this an immoral book?
I think what Wilde is getting at is that morality exists in the act, not the idea of the act. Even books that "advocate" for something immoral -- inciting violence against some group, say -- are in some sense bringing the idea of the act out into the open where it can be confronted, rather than letting it fester, hidden in shadow while we remain blind to its danger until it finds some kind of awful expression in action.
1) Wilde considered himself a Christian (of sorts), didn't he? It seems to me that the New Testament repeatedly asserts that among the acts that can be immoral are acts of thought and of communication.
2) Dorian's cruelty to his fiancee was entirely verbal, wasn't it? If Dorian had written his words down in a book and delivered the book to her, would that have eliminated the immorality from his rejection of her?
3) If writers are merely conduits of the truth, why do we call their work "creative"?
4) And isn't it possible for writers to convey lies instead of truths?